Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There are those who will attack and lambaste this film ‘Vantage Point’.  They will say things about the complete suspension of belief that the viewer must activate in their brains to buy into the premise, they will point out numerous plot holes and gaping chunks of missing logic that flows from scene to scene, and ultimately they will tell you how completely, totally and utterly ludicrous this movie ended up being, and those people will be right in their assessments.  What I’m going to tell you is that no matter how completely ridiculous, ludicrous of whatever adjective of derision you may want to drop on ‘Vantage Point’, it moves so fast and at such a breakneck pace that it rarely gives you time catch your breath to know how silly it actually is.  Noticing how crazy ‘Vantage Point’ is while its running is akin to riding a killer roller coaster, looking to the left and observing daisies growing in a nearby field.  At least until the final act, which moves faster than ever but by this time the daisies are pretty much hitting you in the face as you sit there thinking, ‘Okay, that couldn’t happen’. 

‘Vantage Point’ is an action picture plain and simple.  The difference here is that it replays the same 23 minute span of time over and over from various different perspectives.  The basic plot revolves around President Ashton (William Hurt) who is in Spain for a historic summit that will essentially put an end to terrorism, or something along those lines since this was a flick not too terribly interested in filling in the blanks.  President Ashton steps up to the podium after being introduced by the mayor of this particular Spanish town, though I am curious as to why the Spanish President isn’t lording over the proceedings.  That’s like Vladimir Putin holding a summit in Detroit to announce a Nuclear weapons disarmament treaty and having Kwame Kilpatrick run everything.  Anyway, Ashton gets shot, all hell breaks loose and then there’s an explosion and more hell breaks loose.  Looks simple enough, but not so fast my friend.

First we get a general view of things from the control booth of the news broadcast being lorded over by producer Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver) and covered by reporter Angela Jones (the always lovely Zoe Saldana – not that Sigourney isn’t always lovely too).  The events that were previously described takes place then we rewind twenty three minutes in the past and now we see the perspective of Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) who took a couple of bullets for the President a year ago and is just now getting back on detail, at the urgings of his partner Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox), though he’s still a bit shaky as getting shot at close range will do that to a person.  Normal Everyman Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker) is in Spain for this historic event and is in the crowd with his handheld camcorder to catch the whole thing for prosperity and ultimately catches almost everything that unfolds through his camera’s little eye.  There are a few more rewinds, but that would be giving too much away, which leads us to the final act of the film picking up after that 23rd minute and all that follows after the explosion.

‘Vantage Point’ ain’t boring, that’s for damn sure.  Director Peter Travis takes his movie to the top of a hill, pushes it down and just watches it picks up speed until it eventually crashes into the town below and destroys everything, but riding down that hill sure was a lot of fun.  The story that is initially setup is very interesting with each vignette ending in a mini cliffhanger before moving on to the next vignette, revealing just a little more of exactly what is going on, and nothing in this initial setup is obvious or clear so it will keep you guessing.  With all the car crashes and explosions and shooting and killing you would think the performances would be afterthoughts but with veterans on board like, Weaver, Whitaker and Quaid that’s never an issue as these movie stars do the best they can to give their relatively sketchy characters some depth and meaning to their actions. 

By the time we finally figure out what’s going and the reasons behind the attempted assassination of the president and all of the other little plot twist that are unfolding before us, this is where ‘Vantage Point’ starts begging the audience to seriously suspend all remnants of any common sense.  Again without getting into any details without spoiling the fun for those who wish to see what ultimately is a pretty fun and exciting flick, there are a laundry list of things which have to happen for what ultimately does happen, for it to succeed, and even for the most forgiving of belief suspenders, it’s pretty difficult to get with the program.  The problems with the narrative mounts as you walk out of the theater which gives a lot doubt to a lot basic stuff you saw even before the fantasy laden third act, that is if you want to spend the time to dwell on it.

Similar to what I said about '27 Dresses’, where fans of RomComs probably won’t be disappointed by that picture, but it failed to bring anything that may interest anybody who’s not fond of that genre of films.  Same with ‘Vantage Point’ as action junkies will probably really enjoy this picture, but folks who don’t like to put their brains on hold for 90 or so minutes won’t be nearly as forgiving.  I got an on / off switch for my brain and it gets used quite often, and as such I enjoyed ‘Vantage Point’, warts and all.

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